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Summer sun care: How to prevent hyperpigmentation

Justine Kluk, Consultant Dermatologist for Garnier UK, September 2020

Discover how to prevent hyperpigmentation on the face and body, as Garnier explains how to properly protect your skin from the sun for an even complexion. 

Increased pigmentation (also known as hyperpigmentation) occurs mainly due to an increase in the number of pigment-producing cells in the skin (melanocytes) or an increase in the pigmented substance they produce (melanin). Causes of hyperpigmented skin include melasma, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, freckles, brown spots and drug-induced hyperpigmentation.

Melasma is a common cause of facial pigmentation. It typically appears between the ages of 20 - 40 and is more likely to affect people with darker skin. 90% of sufferers are female and the condition is thought to be triggered by pregnancy or hormonal medication e.g. the contraceptive pill, together with sun exposure. 

Post-inflammatory pigmentation follows injury or inflammation of the skin, for example a flare-up of acne or eczema or any other rash. It can be more intense and longer lasting in skin of colour.

Freckles are more common in light skinned individuals and are thought to be an inherited characteristic. They get darker in the sun and fade again during winter months, unlike solar lentigines (commonly referred to as brown spots or dark spots) which appear in middle age due to sun damage and persist even when it’s not sunny.

The most effective way to prevent hyperpigmentation is to wear sunscreen. Apply a broad spectrum SPF 30 or 50 sunscreen daily and top up every couple of hours if you are spending time outside or near a window. At times of peak UV radiation (11am – 3pm), wear a hat with a wide brim for extra protection. 

There is emerging evidence that sunscreens that protect against visible light as well as UV rays and contain iron oxides can be especially helpful for people who would like to reduce hyperpigmentation. 

In addition to sunscreen, incorporating skincare ingredients such as vitamin A (retinol), azelaic acid, niacinamide, kojic acid, vitamin C, arbutin, AHAs e.g. glycolic acid, licorice root extract and mulberry extract into your daily routine can improve skin pigmentation on the face.

Find more expert advice on protecting your skin from harmful rays or browse our range of Ambre Solaire products to keep you safe in the sunshine.